The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; we cannot adequately combat environmental degradation unless we attend to causes related to human and social degradation. In fact, the deterioration of the environment and of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet: “Both everyday experience and scientific research show that the gravest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest”.
For the fifth time in just three weeks, the Philippines was hit by another tropical cyclone. The impacts of typhoon Ulysses has forced Filipinos to relive their experiences from typhoons such as Yolanda and Ondoy of the years past, while communities across the country are now forced to endure even more losses and damages despite not even having recovered from the previous storms.
As terrifying as recent events have been for Filipinos everywhere, the worst could still come without drastic interventions. Resilience is no longer enough to deal with extreme weather events and other manifestations of climate change, especially with these hazards projected to become even more intense and unpredictable within the decade. To expect vulnerable communities to simply keep on building themselves back up without any meaningful changes in climate and disaster governance is the same injustice that the country has been fighting against in the global policy-making arena for decades.
We call on our leaders to hold major polluters accountable for causing the climate crisis through their excessive burning of fossil fuels. We urge major financial institutions to finally establish clear targets and timelines for divestment from fossil fuels, especially coal, and other environmentally-destructive activities and enact a just transition towards more sustainable practices that fully account for planetary and human health.
Let us continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in affected areas, that they may remain hopeful and courageous to rise above the impacts of recent and future threats. Let us also exemplify the spirit of generosity and charity during these perilous times, by offering our assistance within our respective capacities to those in great need of aid and relief.
The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all. (Laudato Si’ 23)